Berlin gets green light to build giant airport

13th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

13 August 2004, BERLIN - Government officials in Germany announced Friday that they had approved plans to build a giant new airport on the outskirts of the capital Berlin, paving the way for the construction of one of the world's largest new air transport facilities. Construction will not get underway however, until the outcome of a court appeal by outraged local residents is known. The new BBI (Berlin Brandenburg International) airport is to be constructed on the site of the existing Schoenefeld airport,

13 August 2004

BERLIN - Government officials in Germany announced Friday that they had approved plans to build a giant new airport on the outskirts of the capital Berlin, paving the way for the construction of one of the world's largest new air transport facilities.

Construction will not get underway however, until the outcome of a court appeal by outraged local residents is known.

The new BBI (Berlin Brandenburg International) airport is to be constructed on the site of the existing Schoenefeld airport, a somewhat shabby communist-era facility currently mostly used by discount airlines offering holiday packages to Eastern European destinations.

The plan is for BBI to be jointly owned by the German federal government and the state government of Berlin and Brandenburg, after a proposed private ownership scheme fell through in May of last year.

The ambitious project would utterly transform Schoenefeld (SXF). The small airport, about 25 kilometres from the centre of Berlin, currently handles around 1.2 million passengers per year and is easily accessible by road and rail.

The new airport, if constructed, will however face tough restrictions covering flight paths and night flights in order to protect residents of local suburbs from noise pollution, according to the Brandenburg transport ministry.

Such measures may however not be enough to sooth angry locals, who have opposed the scheme since permission to build was first sought a decade ago. Up to 134,000 residents filed legal objections to the plan, citing noise pollution and potential damage to wildlife, amongst other reasons.

Airport opponents are also challenging the government approval to the plan at the Federal Administrative Tribunal in Leipzig. If judges reject the challenge, construction could start in 2006 and the first stage could be complete by 2010.

The Schoenefeld site has a 2,710-metre concrete runway and a 3,000-metre asphalt runway and a single terminal which despite its out-of-date equipment could form the core of a modern terminal. Under the construction plan, one runway would be torn up and a new 4,000- metre runway would be built further south.

Most scheduled flights to and from Berlin currently use Tegel Airport (TXL), which currently handles 5 million passengers per year. The airport's location inside the city limits however means that the scope for expansion is extremely limited.

Berlin has a third public airport as well, at Tempelhof, just 6 kilometres from the centre. It handles 225,000 passengers per year.

Templehof, despite being a favourite of Berliners due to its central location, striking architecture and historical significance as the centre of the Soviet-era Berlin airlift, is slated for closure as its runways are too short to handle the mid-sized aircraft that are the workhorses of the modern discount airline.

The far-flung locations of all three airports have often meant transport headaches for Berliners and tourists and city planners hope to demolish the other two airports once BBI is up and running.

DPA

Subject: German news 

 

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